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    A curse in disguise?

    <div ="storyer">
    <h1>Brendan Cole's Six Nations Review</h1>
    </div>

    <rte:></rte:>

    A CURSE IN DISGUISE?


    A curse in disguise? Ireland's thirty-metre drive up the middle of
    Croke Park in the 76th minute was the maul of the championship and
    looked for all the world like being the final nail in the French
    coffin. However, the cruel fact of the matter is that had it been
    halted a few yards further back it is almost certain we would be
    discussing an Irish victory this morning. Instead, Ireland had to take
    the three points, putting them four clear with four minutes to go;
    possibly the worst lead in rugby.


    The psychology of a four-point margin is terrible. A neither here
    nor there gap it created the perfect template for Ireland's eventual
    mugging. By going four points behind, the French suddenly gained a
    collective awareness of exactly what they needed to do. Drop goals and
    penalties went out the window and they settled down to play rugby in
    its purest form; as a running, try scoring game. Meanwhile, the margin
    served to muddy the waters for the Irish. Should they rush up and blitz
    the French to limit their momentum? Or should they drop back slightly
    and try to make sure they weren't left open to the sucker punch? In the
    end uncertainty abounded, and an ultimately disastrous chaos reigned.


    Clearly, the bounce of the ball was crucial, but the unfortunate
    redrawing of psychological boundaries must be factored in to any
    assessment of this match's endgame. Like poker players putting all
    their chips in for a last, desperate shy at the jackpot, France
    relaxed. Ireland, meanwhile, were like men coming to the end of a
    tightrope who have just looked down for the first time. As the sports'
    shrinks are wont to put it, they got, all of a sudden 'out of the
    moment'.


    TEAM SELECTION ISSUES


    There are, of course, other issues. Should it have been as close as
    it was? Ireland would surely have won had Brian O'Driscoll been in the
    team. Once they lost him though, they got their selection wrong. Shane
    Horgan, an Irish legend and a tremendous winger, was the wrong choice
    at centre. So much of rugby is about body shape and when it comes to
    the international game Horgan, tall and long limbed but lacking zippy,
    hole punching speed, is not the kind of centre Ireland have built their
    years of success on.


    Things clicked into place for Leinster and Ireland when he moved to
    the wing and Gordon D'Arcy went the other way. Both have prospered
    since and it was entirely predictable that Horgan's shift back to
    midfield would result in a dip in form. Even worse, at a time when the
    backline was obviously misfiring, Ireland sent Andrew Trimble on to the
    wing and left Horgan in the middle for the last twenty minutes. This
    left them with a classically built and super talented centre on the
    wing and one of the best wings in the world in the centre. Horgan will,
    of course, return to the wing with Geordan Murphy likely to drop out of
    the team as penance for his missed tackle on Raphael Ibanez for the
    first try while Neil Best looks to have played his way back into the
    side.

    CROKE PARK ATMOSPHERE


    As for the Croke Park atmosphere, the connection between the crowd
    and the team was not what we had hoped for. The fifteen yard gap
    between the pitch and the crowd, and the fact that many people who have
    attended matches at Lansdowne for years weren't able to get there this
    time for reasons of expense and availability, are two possible reasons
    for the occasional dullness. A large and passionate French contingent,
    the Sunday afternoon kick-off and the presence of a certain amount of
    'occasion'-driven watchers also contributed to the neutralising of the
    crowd. The effect of placing the schoolboys and schoolgirls in the
    Nally terrace should also not be underestimated.

    #2
    Originally posted by RobbieG
    <DIV ="storyer"></DIV>





    TEAM SELECTION ISSUES


    There are, of course, other issues. Should it have been as close as it was? Ireland would surely have won had Brian O'Driscoll been in the team. Once they lost him though, they got their selection wrong. Shane Horgan, an Irish legend and a tremendous winger, was the wrong choice at centre. So much of rugby is about body shape and when it comes to the international game Horgan, tall and long limbed but lacking zippy, hole punching speed, is not the kind of centre Ireland have built their years of success on.


    Things clicked into place for Leinster and Ireland when he moved to the wing and Gordon D'Arcy went the other way. Both have prospered since and it was entirely predictable that Horgan's shift back to midfield would result in a dip in form. Even worse, at a time when the backline was obviously misfiring, Ireland sent Andrew Trimble on to the wing and left Horgan in the middle for the last twenty minutes. This left them with a classically built and super talented centre on the wing and one of the best wings in the world in the centre. Horgan will, of course, return to the wing with Geordan Murphy likely to drop out of the team as penance for his missed tackle on Raphael Ibanez for the first try while Neil Best looks to have played his way back into the side.




    That was a very bad decision &amp; really makes you wonder about Eddie's selectorial ability. He really compounded the initial selection error there. Laporte has his critics but he'd never make an error of that magnitude.


    With O'Driscoll back the centre combo picks itself. If he picks N. Best &amp; Flannery I think we'll win the game by a clear score. If not we could be hanging on at the end.
    Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again (like picking Gordon D'Arcy) and expecting different results.
    Albert Einstein

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